Building Permit Application Instructions


Permits issued by the Department of Buildings help to ensure construction work complies with the minimum standards of safety established by the Chicago Construction Codes in order to protect public health, safety, and welfare. A building permit is required before beginning most construction, demolition, and repair work. In order to provide more responsive service, the Department of Buildings offers permitting processes tailored for a wide variety of projects, from home repairs to new skyscrapers.

On these pages, you will find instructions to help you obtain the right type of permit(s) for your project in Chicago.

Express Permit Program | Electrical-Only Permits | Plan-Based Building Permits | Specialty Permits

Express Permit Program

The Express Permit Program, launched in November 2023, provides a fast, user-friendly, web-based way for homeowners, businesses, and other building owners/tenants (and the contractors who work with them) to obtain building permits needed to repair or replace existing features of a building or undertake specific small improvement projects, such as adding residential solar panels. The web interface also allows customers to check application status, pay fees, and view inspection results online 24/7.

Use these instructions to get started:

Electrical-Only Permits

Electrical-only permits are currently available via an online interface for licensed electrical contractors and expediters only. Electrical-only permits will be consolidated with the Express Permit Program in 2024.

Learn more

Plan-Based Building Permits

For building permit applications started on or after August 1, 2020, compliance with the 2019 Chicago Building Code or 2019 Chicago Building Rehabilitation Code is mandatory, with limited exceptions for phased permitting and revision permits. The current online permit application system for plan-based building permits continues to reflect some classifications and terminology from the pre-2019 code. Because planned upgrades to the City’s online permit portal (“Hansen”) are not expected until 2025, the Department of Buildings has prepared the following instructions to help customers navigate the Hansen Dynamic Portal to start online permit applications for work subject to the 2019 Chicago Construction Codes:

Standard Plan Review | Self-Certification | Direct Developer Services | Assisted Developer Services

Standard Plan Review (SPR)

New Construction

Building Rehabilitation

Temporary Structure (Tent, Stage, etc.)

Communication Equipment—New Site

Communication Equipment—Alter Existing Site

Construction Equipment (Crane, Hoist, etc.)

Self-Certification (SC)

New Construction

Building Rehabilitation

Temporary Structure (Tent, Stage, etc.)

Direct Developer Services (DDS)

New Construction

Building Rehabilitation

Assisted Developer Services (ADS)

The Assisted Developer Services (ADS) permit program is designed to meet the specialized needs of moderate to complex construction projects. The program provides a predictable and flexible experience for designers and developers. A Department of Buildings Project Administrator (PA) is assigned as a single point of contact to manage the permit review process. Most plan reviews are performed by a third-party plan review firm selected by the City.  The cost of third-party plan review is assessed based upon bids provided by the City’s third-party review firms and is in addition to the building permit fee. Applicants are required to provide 75% percent construction drawings for plan review pricing. Once all bids are received, the lowest bidder is selected to perform the plan review.

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Specialty Permits

In addition to the Express Permit Program and plan-based building permits, the Department of Buildings issues several different types of specialty permits. These include conveyance device (elevator) permits, demolition (wrecking) permits, fire alarm permits, sewer connection permits, sign permits, and water service permits. Sprinkler/standpipe permits are issued by the Chicago Fire Department, Fire Prevention Bureau.

Fire Alarm Permits

Application instructions for additional types of specialty building permits will be added in the future. For more information, please visit Apply for a Building Permit.